Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

Humanitarian chief pleads for peace amid regional tensions

Nations urged to work together to avoid conflict ahead of Dubai conference

Dr Abdul Al Madani speaks at a preview event on Wednesday to Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Week in March. Antonie Robertson / The National
Dr Abdul Al Madani speaks at a preview event on Wednesday to Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Week in March. Antonie Robertson / The National

The Middle East has already endured “enough violence” amid fears of an escalation in conflict due to tensions between Iran and the US, said a UAE humanitarian champion.

Dr Abdul Salam Al Madani issued a plea for peace on the sidelines of a press conference held to launch this year’s Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development (Dihad) Week, which is taking place in March.

Dr Al Madani, executive chairman of Dihad, said wars were easy to start but much more difficult to stop, by which time the devastation was usually catastrophic.

“The region has had enough (violence). People need to go back and focus on peace,” he said.

“Just look at the Arab uprisings. What did it deliver?

“Violence creates refugees. People have homes, jobs and futures that can be lost in just a day.”

There have been concerns the killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Suleimani in a US air strike in Baghdad last Friday could lead to widespread violence across the Middle East.

Dr Al Madani said the region had already suffered more than its fair share as a result of conflict.

Food security in Africa

A series of events have been organised to mark the Dihad Humanitarian Week including a children’s 4km marathon with more than 10,000 participants from 202 countries on March 6.

The week will culminate in a three-day conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre from March 10-12.

The theme of the conference is providing aid for Africa.

Valerie Guarnieri, assistant executive director of the World Food Programme, will provide a keynote speech on “aid and food security in Africa”.

Also giving a keynote speech, on the need to prioritise aid on the continent, is Christos Stylianides, European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management.

The conference is to be held in Dubai for the 17th consecutive year.

“Dihad has clearly established itself as a global beacon for charitable and humanitarian work as well as a seminal guide for all the humanitarian organisations, charitable institutions and entities around the globe,” said Dr Al Madani.

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 file photo, village women receive aid from the charity organisation, Oxfam International, at a distribution centre in Chirumhanzi about 250 Kilometers South east of Harare. The United Nations says about half of Zimbabwe’s population faces severe hunger amid a devastating drought and economic collapse. The World Food Program notes a “vicious cycle of skyrocketing malnutrition that’s hitting women and children hardest.” More than 7 million people overall are in need. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)
Food security in many parts of Africa is a key theme this year. AP Photo

“Over the years, Dihad has been highly successful in providing support to thousands of needy individuals and communities by bringing together more than 640 participating non-governmental associations, companies, suppliers and international brands from across the world.”

He added it was vital for countries to put aside their differences and work towards establishing a lasting peace.

“We have had enough crises. Just look at Libya, Iraq and Syria,” he said.

“We need to be building economies and providing education. The priority has got to be on the needs of the people.”

The UAE, he said, was a prime example of what could be achieved if people worked together.

Violence creates refugees. People have homes, jobs and futures that can be lost in just a day

Dr Abdul Salam Al Madani

“We have always called for peace here in the UAE,” he said.

“In this country we have more than 200 nationalities living and working together in harmony.”

Mohammed Abdullah Al Zarooni, director of the Emirates Red Crescent in Dubai, said there was an urgent need to provide aid for refugees across the region.

According to the United Nations, the majority of the refugees in the Middle East have been displaced due to war and violence in Syria.

It is estimated more than 5.6 million people have fled the country since 2011, with an additional 6.5 million said to be internally displaced.

There are more than a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon alone, with 70 per cent of them living below the poverty line.

“We are delighted to participate in the Dihad Conference and Exhibition as it is an important humanitarian platform attracting more than 600 companies involved in the relief and rehabilitation efforts of the needy and the impacted,” said Mr Al Zarooni.

Updated: January 9, 2020 11:32 AM

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